Scenes from PV and LB

February 19, 2020

Just a few more of Palos Verdes and the Malaga Cove Library, and a few from my commute from PV to Long Beach. Just because.

Front door of library.


Newspaper room…


Young readers room… (the fireplace is off to my right)..


Main reading room (note arrangement of peacock feathers — iconic Palos Verdes — on the shelf)…


An upstairs reading corner…


A nice mail box across the street…


Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach…


And some palm trees, minus their tops, all filtered up…



The Day in Pictures

February 18, 2020

If you ask me to conjure a perfect couple of down days, I might describe a personal little retreat in the South Bay…. was born in Manhattan Beach, raised in Palos Verdes, and covered a lot of territory in between, including Torrance, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach.  It’s a place I know well — its neighborhoods, its restaurants, shops and cafes, its roads, and most of all its AIR, its VISTAS and its SMELLS. I feel utterly at home here.

It’s funny.. I was only here (in the South Bay, where I’m presently writing and sipping coffee) for 18 years. I’ve lived elsewhere for far more of my life (like, 72% of it!) and of course home to me is with Jim, in the life we’ve built together, with a son we love more than anything on earth (quite literally), in a town we find comfort and refuge in, among our people. That’s home now. Happily and profoundly gratefully so.

But, oh, how I love my little nostalgia tours, and the speed with which I can take my corners (which I mean both literally and figuratively).

And just an aside before I dump a few photos from yesterday (and post date this entry accordingly): I’m sitting at Starbucks in Hollywood Riviera (which they now call Riviera Village). I wasn’t able to get a table inside, so plunked down at an outside table (nicer anyway). Over the past hour, a company of men (2) turned into a crowd of men (3) which has now become whatever they call 8 men (a true gaggle!). I’m now dead in the middle of them, trying not to listen to all their old man-ish conversation (which was funny, mostly).  So, I just moved over to the other side of a long bench.  Feeling a bit badly about crowding me out, one just showed me a photo of his granddaughter posing with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Her name is Alexa. Just so you know.


And, well, one more side note, before I resume blogging…    I ran out of battery power while sitting outside at Starbucks. I’ve relocated and am now sitting in the Malaga Cove Library. Eeeeeeeyup… the Malaga Cover Library. I do not think I’ve walked through the main door here in 50 years! Several years ago, my graduating class at PVHS had its 45th reunion here, but it was in a downstairs community room, accessed through a totally different door on Via Campesina (fun fact for PV-ites, I think the library sits at the very spot where Via Campesina morphs into Via Del Monte).

Anyway, I parked on Campesina, easily I might add, and hiked up the stone steps, past the fountain, along the sloping green and through those familiar doors. I’m slammed with that Malaga Cove library smell (it’s fantastically rich, as you know — leather, books, old wood, old world) and greeted so sweetly by a man at the front desk. I tell him I’ve not been here in 50 years. This excites him. He gives me a brochure with a history of the library and shows me around. He clears a spot in the magazine room for me as it’s quiet, has power to the table, is well lit and comfortable…if I’m going to sit awhile to write, he says. Looks like this:


He also showed me to the bathroom, because, wow, service is great here. (It’s a great bathroom.)

Around the corner is a lovely hallway with large windows looking out onto a stone patio garden with begonias and blooming tulip trees. The hallway is lined with mission-style leather chairs (they all look like our just purchased Morris chair). I’d take a picture except there are men sitting in most of those chairs reading newspapers, looking very at home and like they’ll be there awhile…

The brochure says the Palos Verdes Library and Art Gallery was opened to the public on June 3, 1930. It was designed by architect Myron Hunt and is one of the oldest buildings on the peninsula. It’s situated on a 5-level, sloping lot surrounded by 27 different tree and shrub specimens. Its design reflects the Mediterranean Revival style found all over the hill — stucco, red-tile roofs — with an interior of high beamed ceilings and even a fireplace in the Young Reader’s area (!). The furniture–the brochure says–has been in use since the 30s, designed as replicas of Italian Renaissance tables, chairs and couches.

So… yeah… pretty cozy hereabouts. Can I live here?

Anyway… where this post was going…   My Day in Pictures (which was actually yesterday):

My misty morning walk looked like this… slight fog just on the verge of sun:


And gave way to this by the time of my second walk:

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Then to the plaza …


…where I ran into this fellow who was delighted to be asked if I could take his picture!


Had lunch here (a Chinese chicken salad.. not something I order very often):


And, after a failed nap (will I ever be able to nap?), took myself for another late afternoon –> sunset walk along the Esplanade…





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Then went to dinner with Betsy at Blue Water Grill to raise my glass to mom (the glass was full of Grey Goose and three olives). Ate a hot loaf of sourdough with butter, as she woulda wanted me to. My personal indulgence was the grilled swordfish which was exceptional.

Back to my earlier comment about the ideal personal retreat… this is surely one of them.







Nostalgia Tour

February 17, 2020

Really looking forward to the next few days…   a couple in Redondo Beach and a couple in Huntington/Long Beach, before flying home on Friday.

Maybe it’s the brothers tour: two days in Chris’s neighborhood and two in Matt’s.

Starting with the South Bay…  driving into Palos Verdes was particularly satisfying-comforting-reassuring-good-smelling. The bridle trail was so green!


Via La Selva looked good in the late afternoon light. (Also, there were huge trucks, like construction-type vehicles, in our driveway… things must be finally happening there.)


Checked into my Airbnb on Avenue A, then took a sunset walk. Beside myself with the air. And the view of PV.  And the horizon. And all that water. It was almost too much to bear. But I loved it. Walked from Avenue A to Avenue I, paid my respects to mom’s bench, walked briskly back to Avenue A to sit and watch the sunset. Kinda perfect.






And then met Chris for dinner at Bettolino, formerly Gina Lee’s. Spirited conversation ensued. Lordy.


Making a Splash

February 16, 2020

Last night we attended the grand re-opening of Splash, a wine bar in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego. We went because it was recently purchased and re-energized by Yali Bair and her daughter Kelsey. The Bairs were friends from Davis during Peter’s junior high and high school years.

Yali relocated to San Diego after her husband Aaron passed away a year ago. Aaron’s death was incredibly sad since he was relatively young and in what should have been the middle of a wonderful life. Professionally, he served as the chief of Emergency medicine at the UC Med Center, and was much loved and highly respected. He was in a very happy marriage with Yali, with two kids — Kelsey and Daniel — on the verge of starting their independent lives.  Mostly, I look at that as a life very well lived on all fronts. Shorter than some, and sad for those he left behind, but he did good. He died of some sort of mysterious, disappearing/recurring autoimmune disease that proved incurable, despite the best of medical care.

Yali’s making a new start, including a radical shift in careers with the wine bar, and Kelsey’s on board as a partner. It’s wonderful.

And we got to see them last night as their new venture officially launched. The timing was great!

Splash is right on University, near Ohio. Coincidentally (mildly), Ohio Street is where my Grandma Celia lived all those decades ago. (I got a kick out of that factoid.. because a have enjoyed for the last four years reflecting back on my time at UCSD (46 years ago!!) and my experience of the environs, including getting to see a lot more of my grandma during those years.)


That’s Peter in the door way, on our way out, talking to this young woman who knows about Ann Arbor (one of Peter’s grad school options). Jim’s lower left.


Peter and Daniel.. buddies from the way back. Daniel also graduates this year from SLO with a degree in business and has a job lined up in San Francisco with a go-go firm, as does his girlfriend Chloe (different go-go firm). (Not to mention a deal on an apartment in the Marina.) So proud of these kids.


And some card playing, while tasting wines… I tell ya.



Peter, Jim and I then went to a late dinner at an Italian favorite in the Hillcrest neighborhood– Parma. Fantastic.



With Peter’s time in San Diego counting down, we figured we’d better get back over to the zoo for one last visit. We’d been there in 2015, before he even knew he’d attend UCSD… so, five years later….



Here are a few iPhone (as if that’s not obvious) animal shots:










We’d learned that there were a few Rainbow Eucalyptus trees somewhere at the zoo. We inquired, and were directed just outside the main gate. Worth finding!



It was an unfortunate day to have been without my Apple watch.. as I could not count our steps nor note our significant mileage! But we did walk a bunch. After walking all over tarnation at the zoo, we added some tarnation at Balboa Park. That was particularly pretty at sunset, but I’ve already posted too many pictures, so you’ll just have to imagine the glowing light on the architecturally stunning buildings.

Well… here’s one:


And we met Kim and Sandi for dinner at nearby Cucina Urbana… which was its usual exceptional. Then Peter and I dropped Jim off at the airport, as per our Sunday evening ritual, and returned to La Jolla.


The View from Here

February 15, 2020

We are now keenly aware that our time in La Jolla is coming to an end… after four years of 4-5 trips/year, and dozens of restaurants and hikes and walks along the beach. Feels a bit sad but also kind of exciting as we think about what is in store for Peter in his next academic chapter. More on that later.

We are feeling prematurely nostalgic this trip and have decided to spend the next couple visits–likely our last for a long while–returning to favorite restaurants (detailed notes of which I’ve kept…no surprise to my guys).

This morning, we went to Brockton Villa for brunch…


…and had their famous Coast Toast. Yum. No pictures of that, but here is the view from the restaurant (if you looked down from these double palms, you’d see the La Jolla Cove).


And the original…


Sure gonna miss this place.


The Jewel

February 14, 2020

In English, la joya means “the jewel.” I assume that La Jolla is a form of la joya.. they’re certainly pronounced the same.

In any case, Jim and I are in La Jolla, meeting up with Peter within the hour, I hope. He’s still in class. We flew in to San Diego at about noon and headed to a little culinary pocket of mostly Mexican restaurants we discovered a few visits ago, this time eating at a place called Lucha Libre Taco Shop (which is full of Mexican pro wrestling kitsch). It’s considered completely authentic (why wouldn’t it be?) and it was good. We’re now killing time in our hotel room, but spent a good part of the afternoon walking along the beach in this lovely (ritzy) quintessential Southern California coastal town.  Beeeeeautiful day. I might be a bit sunburned.

Some snaps:


I liked the water patterns.




Played a little with this one. Note the surfing blobs out there.



This is a neato front door.


I just love a bare eucalyptus trunk. It is the coolest look. And those roots..


It’s Valentine’s Day… so these just materialized out of nowhere…


Fun to have a thatched hut on the beach for folks to use. This is near what appears to be a popular surf spot; and the waves (which were breaking to the left of this shot) looked pretty fun.


I’m always a sucker for rows of backlit palm trees against a blue sky.


And, Happy Valentine’s Day!  I love us:

When Life Gives You Crazy…

February 13, 2020

…… head to the creek on a brilliantly sunny day.

The crazier it gets, the more we need respite, and the arboretum this morning was that place. So far, just a few trees are blooming, but the place was teeming with artists and babies and duck families.


We couldn’t escape politics (a theme that repeated everywhere I went today). We were doing our usual loop around the creek going over some of the latest alarming news(*), as we do, passing pairs of others similarly animated. I have to believe it’s a good thing that concerned people all over town (and I presume other towns, as well) are in various states of shock.

It was pretty down there, and one could easily escape into the surroundings and loveliness…








Equestrian Center



Greens so green



(*) From my new favorite historian, Heather Cox Richardson, who’s been preparing a daily summary of the day’s notable news now for months (Called “Letters From an American”): “Since the Senate acquitted him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Trump seems to feel untouchable, and he is trying to consolidate his power.” And then she went on to cite the details of numerous examples, including T’s meddling in Roger Stone’s sentencing and AG Barr bending to his will, though that wasn’t the only example. The whole essay today just made me shake. And it looks like there could be a showdown between the two branches of the dem party for the nomination–not news–but that it could become a fight between Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg. That could get complicated and threatening to party unity.




Okay, I’m not going to post every time I spend a couple of hours registering voters, but I just have to say this is about the most tangible, satisfying political work I have ever done, or will ever do. Truly, what could be more important?

Registering voters at CSU Stanislaus (Modesto) is more like a 6-hour commitment with the commute time, but that drive part goes fast when you’re in a car with three other relentlessly motivated, politically engaged/enraged fellow dems… that is some good conversation, let me tell you.

For those keeping track (me, of course), my personal 2020 voter registration total so far is 27 (added ten today).  I’ve toyed with the idea of setting a goal for myself of new democratic voters for the 2020 election … 100? 500? but I’m not even sure what a good target is.. other than as many as possible and every new vote counts.

So, we’ll just keep doing that.



Came upon these a few days ago…


What’s really coming up all over town are blossoms and bulbs and sour grass. There is no rain in the 10-day forecast.. just lots of blue sky and 70 degree weather.  And WOW, but it feels like spring out there.

In other news, Bernie Sanders won New Hampshire tonight. I’m thrilled, AND quaking in my boots.

Like everyone, I want a candidate who will resoundingly beat the Freak Show of a president we’re suffering through now, and send his whole clown car packing in November. I’ve never thought the best candidate would be somebody with my progressive policy preferences (thank you Sweden for showing me the way), but, man, here we are with Bernie winning the popular vote in the Iowa Caucuses and outright winning New Hampshire. What. Does. That. Mean???

I know it’s early.

Though I lean way left, I’ve always been willing for our president to be more middle-ish in order to satisfy and represent the greatest number of people. Seems only fair, in a country as divided as we are, that a president govern from the middle.  But if we WERE ever to get to a better, more equitable society — the democratic socialist country that I dream of — we ought to at least get there in careful steps.

I really think Elizabeth Warren is the thoughtful, smart, process-oriented steady hand we need here. She’s got the policies nailed, but I think she’d govern within the lines and propose a more reasonable, nuanced  path to get there. (Not that any of these things would ever happen with a republican Senate, at least not wholesale, and certainly not anytime soon).

I’m not counting her out, yet, but she’s not doing well right now. And ZOUNDS!, Bernie’s killing it … and I just don’t know how that’s going to go over in the middle part of the country that we have to win in order to secure the electoral college.

(I wonder if, subconsciously, this is why I posted a picture of mushrooms coming up out of the ground. If Elizabeth had won tonight, maybe I’d have been moved to post a picture of bright flowers. Maybe I don’t want an old white guy, even if I love his policies and energy.)